Newly-minted Member of Parliament for St George North Toni Moore today took her place in the House of Assembly where she served notice – and Prime Minister Mia Mottley acknowledged – that she would take a stand for workers, even if it meant challenging Government.
Just after 10:30 a.m., Moore was led into the Lower Chamber by Mottley and Leader of Government Business Santia Bradshaw.
With the formal introduction from Speaker of the House Arthur Holder completed, Moore, decked out in red and seated just behind the Prime Minister, was welcomed by both sides of the House.
Leading the greetings, Mottley said she was especially pleased that the election of Moore, the general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), had led to the “reunification of two entities [ the parliamentary party of the BLP and the labour movement] that have not been together for 65 years”.
She made it clear that she expected robust debate and heavy lifting from Moore, who she said was fully expected to trumpet the cause of the labour at times.
“We are conscious that there will be moments when her duty to the labour movement will take pre-eminence over everything else, and I start this session by making this point very clear. That is what we expect of her, that is what is required. That is what the public requires of her and her decision to work with us is one that is rooted in the same philosophical concerns and beliefs,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley congratulated Moore who crushed her five political rivals when she captured the rural seat for the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP), with 3 154 votes, in the November 11 by-election.
He urged Moore, who previously served as an Independent Senator in the last sitting of Parliament, to stay focused and keep the faith as she served her constituents and wider Barbados.
“Ultimately, judgment is not established in the critiquing tongues of opponents or even supporters. It is found more so in the manner in which you conduct yourself as you seek to serve, and I am sure you will find and fulfil a proper way in doing so,” Bishop Atherley said.
In response, Moore told fellow lawmakers it was a proud moment for her, and served notice that she was there to speak on behalf of her constituents and all working people and their families.
The new MP also noted that it was significant that labour had returned to the House Assembly at a challenging time for the workforce, triggered by the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and stressed that it was therefore even more imperative for labour to have a voice in Parliament.
Moore, whose stewardship of the BWU has been under heavy fire since she joined the BLP, advised her colleagues to put Barbados first and to take even critics in stride to deliver better service to those responsible for their election.
“We must ever be mindful of critics. It is in listening and discussing that we not push dissenting voices in the background. We have to be mindful of the work we have to do in the House,” she said.